Taking racing seat shells to a new level Taking racing seat shells to a new level

Porsche team Herberth Motorsport is one of the leading teams in German GT racing. The Bavarian team of brothers Alfred and Robert Renauer has celebrated countless wins and titles since 1996. However, soft trim celebrates a completely different kind of success with Herberth Motorsport: the development of the SPACER racing seat shell.

“We talked to the Renauer brothers about the requirements of racing seat shells for the first time in 2018,” remembers Olaf Hofmann, Technical Manager at soft trim. “At the time, we started developing the SPACER and were reliant on the experience of professional racing teams. We almost exclusively built seats and prototypes for the automotive industry, but we have always been passionate about motorsport,” says Olaf Hofmann. A development partnership sprung up between Herberth Motorsport and soft trim, without the SPACER would not be the high-end seat shell it has become today.

Stop hobbying – for more comfort and safety

It quickly became clear that the first thing that matters is how comfortable the seat is, but other aspects also count: “If you want to be successful in racing, the correct seating position is extremely important to feel comfortable in the car. You need the perfect seat to become one with the car. This includes how well the seat fits, but also comfort and safety,” explains Herberth team boss Robert Renauer during a visit to soft trim in Dresden.

This is how the idea came about to develop an individual seat shell for the specific needs of a race car driver. Now one might think that this approach was nothing new. After all, motorsport has been practiced at the absolute top level for decades. But there is still a lot of catching up to do when it comes to seats and seat shells.

“While other components are perfected down to the smallest detail, the shells that you put in the seat are often only put together by makeshift solutions – with the help of lots of adhesive tape, for example. This not only contradicts professionalism, but also harbours dangers. Especially in case of an accident,” says Renauer.

Using the experiences from racing

A close co-operation developed. “The guys from Herberth Motorsport give us new insights every season and also after important races,” says Sascha Taubert, product manager of the SPACER. “This way, we have been able to analyse the needs of drivers over the years and further develop the seat shell in a very goal-oriented manner. For example, I can think of a ventilation system that helps the driver to stay focused even in hot conditions.”

Anyone who thinks that this is always dead serious and analytical would be surprised. “Working with soft trim is always relaxed and fun. But also, it is very professional and focused on the essentials when it matters. The results speak for themselves,” explains Robert Renauer shortly after a fitting with the team’s car: the brand-new Porsche 911 GT3 R. This is the new development laboratory for the fastest external development engineers.

Another example of a worthwhile development partnership is the safety aspect, which has become increasingly important. “In the beginning it was about producing a perfectly fitting seat shell of the highest quality. In the second step, we used fireproof materials in a more targeted manner so to offer more safety in the event of a fire,” explains Olaf Hofmann. The latter was also officially confirmed. The SPACER now demonstrably fulfils the fire resistance according to DIN ISO 3795.

More information about SPACER seat shell: spacer.soft-trim.de